Birmingham was the first BETTER city partner to influence its selected policy instrument (the West Midlands Innovation Programme – WMIP) back in 2022 by adopting the design thinking approach observed in Gävle and Tartu during the project activities (i.e. Thematic Events, Study Visits and Import Workshops). The city created the DIPS-Digital Innovation in Public Services project (funded by the WMIP itself), targeting SMEs and service departments in the local authority to consider and address citizen challenges. The initiative has six stages: (1) Challenge definition by the Birmingham City Council service departments, (2) Call for solutions from SMEs, (3) Exploration, (4) Business Accelerator run by Innovation Birmingham/Bruntwood to develop the ideas, (5) Prototype phase, and (6) Pre-commercialisation. (As a side note: this process served as a good practice for Nyíregyháza to get involved in a similar project called URBAN TECH which you can read about HERE.)

As of today, the delivery mechanism has reached the stage where 5 challenge briefs have been developed in the topics of food, urban planning, transport and adult social care with the support of Birmingham City University and handed over to Bruntwood Sci Tech:

  • How might we use technology to connect urban/regional food producers with local demand, and transport goods between them in a reliable, affordable, and sustainable way?
  • How can technology transform public consultation to increase citizen engagement, improve quality, and enable meaningful dialogue?
  • How can technology support the transformation of Mobility Hubs into places of community and business activity that drives active transport use in the city?
  • How can technology enable citizens with learning disabilities to access, and be in control of, suitable transport services that increase confidence and independence?
  • How can technology enable citizens to access engaging and inclusive adult social care service information quickly and efficiently?

Bruntwood reached out to 520 businesses via a targeted LinkedIn campaign – West Midlands companies which they believe have the potential to solve one or more of the challenges above. They have received a total of 21 applications and 15 of them were selected for further development with the Challenge Owners – the Prototype phase will take place during the spring months.

More information about the DIPS project can be found HERE.